Getting a close-up look at Philip Johnson’s Glass House, which was opened to the public last summer, has not been so easy. Guided tours of the iconic Modernist structure—designed by the architect for himself and completed in 1949 in New Canaan, Connecticut—are limited to 10 people and are only offered seven months a year. The 2007 tickets were snatched up long before the June 23 grand opening, and the 2008 season sold-out just as quickly.

The Glass House
The Glass House
The Glass House was designed by architect Philip Johnson, who lived there until his death in 2005 (top).
The Glass House property contains 14 structures, including the Painting Gallery (above).
Photos © Julius Shulman and Juergen Nogai

In response to demand, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which owns and operates the site, is adding a sixth daily tour and releasing 1,500 extra tickets. “We evaluated our schedule and found a way to add an additional tour each day that wouldn’t compromise the visitor experience,” says Christy MacLear, the site’s executive director. “We don’t want people to have to wait years to come.” The $40 tickets for the two-hour tour go on sale Thursday, May 1, at 9:00 a.m. The architectural landmark, one of 28 owned by the trust, is open every day except Tuesday, April through October. Last year, it drew 8,000 visitors from 11 different countries.

The 1,720-square-foot, steel-and-glass pavilion sits on a 47-acre estate that contains 13 additional structures and an impressive collection of contemporary art. Johnson, who lived in the house with his longtime partner and noted art curator David Whitney, willed the property to the trust in 1986. Johnson resided there until his death in 2005 at the age of 98.

In preparation for the property’s public debut in 2007, the trust completed 26 conservation projects, including replacement of the Glass House roof. Preservation efforts are ongoing, MacLear says. This year, the trust is restoring bricks inside the house, conserving Frank Stella paintings, and removing mold from the sculpture gallery. All of that said, MacLear says the house is in fine shape, noting that it “stands the test of time.”


To purchase tickets to tour the Glass House, call (866) 811-4111 or visit